Kobe Quake: The Great Hanshin Earthquake 17 January 1995

After the Kobe earthquake

After the Kobe earthquake

I’ve written about this before: but today is the eighteenth anniversary of the Great Hanshin Earthquake, and I’m thinking about what was lost.

I was in the office when I heard that a huge earthquake had hit Kobe around a quarter to six in Japan’s morning.  With the Internet in its infancy and mobile phones still beyond most pockets both in terms of cost and size, all of us at Anime UK relied on email, chat forums and the Press for news. It was hard to get in touch with anyone in Kobe because communication lines were down and power was out. For several days fans in the USA and UK wondered if Ghost In The Shell creator Masamune Shirow, whose studio was in the area, had survived the disaster.

It was several days before I heard from my friend. He and his pregnant girlfriend had been planning their wedding. She was a Kobe girl; they loved the town and were planning to live there. She and the baby were lost.

So today I’m thinking about a child who would have been eighteen this summer, graduating from high school, one child among a host of lost children and lost families. Because that’s how disasters and tragedies happen, one life at a time. When we hear about wars and earthquakes and famines, they aren’t distant events that have nothing to do with us. They’re one man mourning one woman and one child, or mourning all his family; one child without parents or siblings, facing the world alone; one old person with nobody left.

So when you hear about another disaster far away, please do whatever you can. Whatever you can will not bring back the dead, but by acknowledging our common humanity, it will help the living.

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One thought on “Kobe Quake: The Great Hanshin Earthquake 17 January 1995

  1. Well said, Helen! I met a couple in Sri Lanka in 2010 who took me to their (now abandoned) home they lived in on December 26, 2004. The husband walked me around the yard, pointing out the trees they were smashed against by the wave, the roof his wife ended up deposited on, and the building his adult daughter was trapped inside and drowned. It was perhaps the most powerful story I heard on that trip. And his story was one among millions from that disaster, not to mention those that have afflicted the world before and since!

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